No data is data…this is what research is about!

Saturday March 27th, 2010

At Least We Got 10 Drumlines in the Water…Right?

Oh the Florida Keys- sun, sand and blue skies- what more could one ask for?  One could say that nothing else is needed in this concoction of elements to create a perfect day. However, there is a select few of us who would like to see one more element to be added to it- shark fishing!! A new day brought forth a new adventure and possibility to land that elusive hammerhead. Coming off of what one would say a trip of “epic” proportions on Friday, hopes were high that the streak would continue. The day could not have been any better- sun, winds calm with just a light chop on the water. Luckily for us, Joe and Tim were able to join us for another excursion into the depths of Florida Bay!! As we headed out, I heard stories and saw reenactments of the great fight between Brendal and the sawfish, the good luck hair locks and the first ever bull shark (BD Bull) to have a spot satellite tag placed on it. This got the adrenaline running and I may have done a dance on the boat to show my excitement…thankfully there is no evidence to prove this!

To channel the same energy, we ended up going to the same area as the day before to increase the chances to the same success. At lightning speed, the drumlines entered the water and the signature “TEN DRUMLINES IN THE WATER” resonated throughout the boat and the bay. Done with the easy work, it was time for lunch and the big wait to see what the day brought us. Time slowly ticked by and the excitement mounted- would today surpass the greatness of yesterday?

As we wait for the sharks, it’s lunchtime! (click to enlarge)

With every drumline brought the promise of a shark; however the first set of five only brought back empty hooks or torn bait. Being one not to worry, Adam busted out his infamous “hammer dance” and I joined him in calling the sharks to feast on the delicious mackerel, barracuda and tuna steaks we placed in the water. The second round of drumlines again brought up nothing….but several bite marks were present on the line, so at least sharks are active in the area. Feeling a bit down, Neil called for a “hammerhead meeting” which we all put on our “hammerheads” and gather around in a circle….an awesome picture by Joe shows the ritual in progress. Going back on the final rounds of drumlines, we pondered what could be the reason of why the sharks were not taking the bait. The weather and conditions were better, however, there was a good amount of other boats out in the Bay and also the possibility of a larger shark prowling the area, scaring smaller ones away. The third round once again landing nothing, expect for a sail catfish on the last line brought in.

The shark team getting together for a Hammerhead Chant, yes it has worked before.(click to enlarge)

Looking at the fourth and final round, I’ll admit I was starting to feel bummed but kept a glimmer of hope in the back of my head.  The first line in the set looked like the other 15, but when the line was reeled in, there was a bit of tension and drag. Lo and behold what was on the other end? A SHARK!! This female juvenile black tip, approximately 112 cm, was exhausted and needed to be removed from the line quickly. Swift thinking and movement by the group allowed the juvenile to be released in a stable condition. Seeing this, excitement started to build up again….could we go four for four on the rest? Unfortunately, no such luck, as the next three brought in anything but empty hooks. Placing all hope on the last line of the day, we did one more “hammer chant” and brought it in. Tension was present on the line the entire time and we were able to bring in our second shark for the day- a 113 cm female blacknose. Even though the day did not live up to the hype of the previous day, we still were able to get two small sharks. And when research is a stake, anything is better than nothing.  No data is in fact great data, by finding that in one day we can catch a variety of sharks compared to almost none in another will tell us something down the road. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to rebound and thanks to everybody for yet another exciting expedition!

Julia is helping release a blacktip shark after it was measured and tagged. (click to enlarge)

Shark Team quickly trying to tag and release a young blacktip. (click to enlarge)

Don’t forget you can track our satellite tagged sharks at https://www.sharkresearch.rsmas.miami.edu/learning-tools/, we have 4 Great Hammerheads, 1 Scalloped Hammerhead, and 1 Bull Shark.  Keep up with their movements!

Elasmobranch love,

Julia Lampe (Shark Intern)

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